State of the Meta is a bi-monthly article designed to track the ever shifting meta-game within Dota and keep readers ahead of the curve. It is based off of recent professional games and their reflections upon matchmaking.
The game of Dota is known to have violent meta changes. These changes generally are rooted in professional play due to the strategies trickling down to the general audience from players who observe them. Sometimes these are slow and take time and other times, it’s abrupt and relatively instant. Currently the Meta game is shifting from the mild farm friendly nature of Ti3 to a much faster paced game where carries are forced to fight as soon as they can.
Generally teams would focus on ganking carries and keeping them from farming efficiently but it seems recently teams are willing to let carries farm if they know they can be dominant playing against the remaining teammates. This ushers in the rising trend of armor reduction which was epitomized in game 3 of the G-League finals.
DK having been dominant throughout game 1 and 2 decided to draft a team with astounding armor reduction.
The result was the ability to reduce any targets armor instantly by 26 (15 from slardar, 5 from naga, and 6 from visage’s medallion). The armor reduction only continued as invoker’s forge spirits were able to reduce another 8 armor as they hit the target. This was followed by two necronomicon, visage familiars, treants, and Naga illusions which all benefit from their target’s weakened state.
Even though iG was able to go toe to toe with DK early, they couldn't stand against them in the mid game and were quickly dispatched. DK won the Finals of the G-League because they were ahead of the Meta and iG just couldn’t keep up.
For another example you can look to the Finals of StarLadder where the true titans of Western Dota, Navi and Alliance, clashed again. Looking at Navi’s draft in game 3, (Dazzle, Luna, Templar Assassin, Treant Protector, and Invoker). This was a greedy draft and it paid off in full as the armor reduction proved too much for Alliance to handle in any team fight and allowed Navi to control the tempo of the game and find their tri-core farm and experience. In this situation Dazzle can reduce armor by up to 30 (with Aghanims). Follow that with Invoker’s 8 and Templar’s 8 and you have nearly anyone in negative armor values. The Treant pick fits in perfectly as his ultimate is a great disengage or engage which are both necessary in this style of play.
Armor reduction needs something to back it up and that’s where battle ready carries come into play. Here we see Luna who can make and break a fight anytime she has her ultimate ready. As the game progresses her Moon Glaives are able to capitalize on the armor reduction and shred through an entire team.
What It Means
To win at any level you have to be prepared and these trends are sure to show themselves in matchmaking. Summons, armor reduction, and battle ready carries are popular and if you want to beat them you have to know their weaknesses.
- Aggressive tri-lanes are good ways to shut down battle ready carries and take control of their jungle. It might keep them from taking control of the game too early and forcing you to fight as five.
- Armor reduction isn’t easy to counter so banning out armor reduction that fits their team is a good place to start if you see them picking it up early. Targets to look for are Alchemist, Naga, Vengeful Spirit, Dazzle, and Invoker.
- Outside of that a quick Vlad’s, Mekansm, and Medallion can help reduce their potency
- Heroes like Gyrocopter and Medusa can help clear out illusions/summons while being able to fight relatively early with the right builds.
- Disengage can help escape situations in which armor reduction is stacking too hard. Heroes like Mirana, Clockwork, Treant Protector and Naga can keep a fight from spiraling out of control
- Vanguard has fallen out of the meta but it is an effective way to reduce damage taken outside of armor. It could be an option in the right situation. Otherwise a Poor Man's Shield is a great option if you are playing an agility hero.
Hero Trend Predictions
Heroes to rise
- Naga- Has incredible disengage, engage, strong armor reduction and can fill multiple positions. Fits the current Meta well and I can only see her getting more popular.
- Elder Titan- Natural Order scales well with other armor reduction. He also can engage and disengage while being disruptive in fights.
- Mirana- Her ultimate is a great way to escape a bad situation or create a positive situation for your team. She can lane anywhere, fill multiple positions, and can be effective without levels and farm.
- Death Prophet- Is a strong mid and can win or break even in most match ups. Can dictate the mid game with her ultimate.
- Alchemist- Unless he gets a nerf there is no reason to think he will stop getting picked. He can play any position in any lane and has a very strong armor reduction teamed with a strong physical stun and can catch up or sustain a lead with his gold gains.
Heroes to fall
- Rubick- Rubick doesn't fit well into the strong trilanes that many teams run. His lift is a great initiate in lane but he doesn't have as much damage as a a support like Crystal Maiden, is very easy to pick off, and can't efficiently find jungle farm when nothing is happening. Massive ultimates are also not as popular leaving him less options for game breaking steals. Rubick will continue to get picked but will likely lose popularity.
- Timbersaw- Armor reduction and lock down can make Timber much less scary. If Timber isn't able to abuse his survivability he brings very little to the team.
- Chen- With the increased early aggression having time to find jungle creeps and make plays with them is much harder. Chen can help delay and buy time for his team to find farm and levels but scales poorly into the late game.
- Dark Seer- Hard Disengage can make Dark Seer unable to capitalize on his ult. Strong defensive tri-lanes have found ways to deny him farm and find kills on him which generally forces him to jungle. He can still be a strong counter pick or fill a spot in a team but will likely be less popular moving forward.
Hopefully this has been helpful and I welcome you to voice your opinions in the comments below.